Helping Clients through Every Step of the Divorce Process in Huntsville
Deciding to end your marriage is often a difficult choice, though this decision is only the first step of the process. While most people want their divorce to be final as quickly as possible, there are certain procedures you must follow and requirements you must meet to legally dissolve your marriage in Alabama.
Whether you plan to file for divorce or you learn your spouse has filed, it is critical to have skilled legal representation from a Huntsville divorce attorney. Many complications might arise during a divorce case, and many people experience delays, increased expenses, and overall higher stress than they need to. The right attorney can address any issues in your divorce efficiently so that you can move forward with your life in the best position possible.
The law firm of Cloud, Ryan & Rouse, LLC, handles divorce cases for clients in all types of situations. Whether your divorce is relatively simple with little property or contention, or you have extensive wealth, children, and an adversarial spouse, we can help. Contact us for more information today.
Requirements for a Divorce in Alabama
Alabama law does not allow anyone to obtain a divorce in our state. Instead, there are certain requirements for filing a valid divorce petition. The following is a brief overview of some requirements – to discuss your specific situation, consult directly with an experienced Huntsville divorce attorney.
Either you or your spouse must have lived in Alabama for at least six months before you are able to petition the court for a divorce. If you do not, the court will not have the proper jurisdiction to oversee your case. If you meet the residency requirement, you also need to make sure you file the divorce petition with the right state court in the proper county. For example, if you reside in Huntsville, you will want to file with the Madison County Circuit Court.
Grounds for Divorce
Your divorce petition must state proper grounds for divorce, which is the reason why you are requesting the court to dissolve the marriage. Alabama recognizes both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds include the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or incompatibility. These no-fault grounds do not require that you provide proof of specific wrongdoing in order to end your marriage.
On the other hand, you can also cite different types of misconduct as fault-based grounds for divorce, including:
- Incapacitation of your spouse
- Domestic violence or abuse
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse
- Incarceration for a minimum period of time
- Crimes against nature
- Confinement in a mental institution for five years
- Pregnancy at the time of the marriage without the husband’s knowledge
- Abandonment by your spouse
If you cite abandonment, you must show your spouse abandoned you “from bed and board” for at least one year before you file. If you cite fault-based grounds, you must provide sufficient evidence to the court to support your claims.
Resolving Relevant Issues
Before a court will grant a divorce, the spouses must be clear on how to resolve certain issues. The specific issues in question will depend on the circumstances of your marriage, and they might include some or all of the following.
Division of marital property – Alabama law requires spouses to divide their marital property in an equitable manner. This means that the division of property, assets, and debts must be fair, given the circumstances. First, you must determine what is marital property and what is considered to be separate property. You will each retain your separate property, but you must divide marital property, which might include:
- The family home
- Personal property
- Investment properties
- Bank accounts
- Investment portfolios
- Retirement accounts
- Business interests
Many factors go into property division determinations, and this can be a complex part of a divorce case.
Child custody and child support – If you have children with your spouse, you will need to address the matters of custody and financial support. First, you will need to figure out how you will share custody or whether one parent will get sole custody. Custody involves both who the children spend time with and who gets to make decisions for the well-being of the child. Joint custody is far more common than sole custody, though one parent might get sole custody in certain situations. You will also need to determine whether one parent will need to make payments to the other for child support based on the formula provided by state law.
Spousal support – Also referred to as alimony or maintenance, spousal support is intended to address financial discrepancies between the two spouses. For instance, if you stayed home for 15 years to care for the household while your spouse rose in the corporate ranks and commands a high salary, your spouse will likely have to provide support until you are able to enter the workforce and support yourself sufficiently.
Some spouses are able to agree on all of the relevant issues, and they are able to file an uncontested divorce. Some spouses do not agree at first, though with the help of their attorneys or mediation, they can reach a compromise. Other spouses are not able to cooperate regarding one or more issues, and the matter must go before the court for the judge to decide.
Everyone must wait at least 30 days for a divorce to be finalized in Alabama. Even if you and your spouse file for an uncontested divorce and agree on how to resolve all relevant issues, you still will need to wait for the 30-day period. This is intended to give you time to reconcile, if possible.
Consult with a Huntsville Divorce Attorney as Soon as Possible
In many cases, the right divorce attorney in Huntsville can help to resolve your divorce as efficiently as possible while still protecting your rights and interests. To speak with our team at Cloud, Ryan & Rouse, LLC, please call 256-801-1000 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.